Nothing lifts my spirits or gives me a better laugh than watching comical videos many dog owners post on the Internet. Whether it is some sort of trick, or a funny scenario, it never ceases to amaze me how incredibly intelligent and receptive our four legged friends are – particularly when a reward of some sort is involved. The videos often showcase the bond between a dog and their master, invariably featuring a wagging tail paired with laughter and enjoyment on the part of the teacher.
Entertainment that includes trained dogs has long been part of popular culture. Many of us grew up watching various movies and TV shows that highlighted dogs in various familial situations. For example, in the 1950’s there was Lassie and Old Yeller and later on Beethoven, Benji, Eddie from Frasier, and Marley from Marley and me. However, my first real exposure to the truly strange things people will teach their pets was the “stupid pet tricks” segment on the David Letterman show. People from across North America brought their pets on stage to perform for the viewing audience. The sillier the trick, the more it evoked laughter and amazement (and sometimes a cringe worthy reaction).
Yes, without question the lengths that people will go to have their pets emulate human behaviour(s) is quite inspiring. Case in point is this recent video on CNN narrated by the very deadpan Jeanne Moore,featuring a dog eating peanut butter with a spoon.
While hilarious, I selfishly tend to lean towards the more practical. Sometimes before I leave the house for work and the place is clearly upside down, I look over at our dog with envy. Most days he lies contently, bathing in the light streaming from the kitchen window. While I don’t begrudge his pleasures and tranquillity I must admit the thought has crossed my mind – what if our Rocky could help out with some light housework while we are at work? Life would be so much simpler. After all, many dog breeds have served and continue to serve important functions ranging from working in an agricultural context to assisting the visually impaired as well as police and rescue. Check out Jessie’s remarkable housekeeping prowess to see that anything is possible!
More realistically, we have recently upped the ante by attempting to graduate our dog from simple sitting and fetching to learning how to smile and even crawl. Unfortunately, no amount of treats or encouragement has interested him in becoming more adept at these behaviours, and if nothing else, we have come to understand that many hours of training is required for what looks like the simplest of tasks. Of note are the variety of training resources that employ assorted techniques and strategies based on different schools of thought that are available at Winnipeg Public Library. These include:
Cesar Millan’s short guide to a happy dog [sound recording] : [98 essential tips and techniques] by Cesar Millan.
Uses Cesar Millan’s unique insights about dog psychology to create stronger, happier relationships between humans and their canine companions. Both inspirational and practical, A Short Guide to a Happy Dog draws on thousands of training encounters around the world to present ninety-eight essential lessons.
Train your dog positively : understand your dog and solve common behaviour problems including separation anxiety, excessive barking, aggression, housetraining, leash pulling, and more by Victoria Stilwell.
This book offers counselling to dog owners on how to train their pets using positive reinforcement, offering insight into how a dog thinks, feels, and learns to suggest the best approaches to treating behavioural problems.
Training for both ends of the leash : a guide to cooperation training for you and your dog by Kate Perry and Yvonne Conza.
Helps an individual develop the tools and understanding required to be the best trainer for a new puppy or adult dog-it’s never too early or late to start!
Training the best dog ever : a 5-week program using the power of positive reinforcement by Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz and Larry Kay.
An award-winning program of positive reinforcement and no-fail techniques, Training the Best Dog Ever takes only 10 to 20 minutes a day; works whether you’re training a puppy or an adult dog, even one with behavior problems; and requires no special dog-handling abilities.
Barron’s dog training bible by Andrea Arden
Author Andrea Arden is a well-known trainer who currently works on Animal Planet’s shows, Underdog to Wonderdog, Dogs 101, and Cats 101. She stresses the importance of understanding canine psychology and a dog’s learning capacity as necessary prerequisites to effective and humane training.
Clicker training by Katharina Schlegl-Kofler
Clicker training is an animal-friendly positive reinforcement method that really works for training dogs. This manual gives detailed instruction to dog owners, inexperienced pet owners, those planning to acquire their first pet, and older
children looking for pet care information. Each title features
approximately 70 color photos and offers practical advice on purchasing,
housing, feeding, health care–and where applicable, grooming and training
Your dog : the owner’s manual : hundreds of secrets, surprises, and solutions for raising a happy, healthy dog by Marty Becker with Gina Spadafori
Through surprising facts, moving stories and tested solutions, the veterinary expert from Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show will give every dog owner the secrets to raising a healthy,well-behaved dog. For anyone who owns a dog or is thinking about getting one, Dr. Marty Becker’s manual is a must-have guide to anything and everything canine.